Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
Yes, you can receive Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits for “Trucker’s Shoulder.” However, Arkansas law treats Trucker’s Shoulder differently than other types of workplace injuries, so it’s very important that you know about the condition, your rights under the Workers’ Compensation law in Arkansas, and the procedure for getting your benefits.
What is Trucker’s Shoulder?
Trucker’s Shoulder is a condition that affects the muscles and is classified as a Repetitive Movement Disorder (RMD). It is most often referred to as a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI). According to the National Institute of Health, RMDs are caused by “too many uninterrupted repetitions of an activity or motion, unnatural or awkward motions such as twisting the arm or wrist, overexertion, incorrect posture, or muscle fatigue. RMDs occur most commonly in the hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders…” After a period of time muscles and other tissues in the body may become damaged. The damage can either be permanent or temporary.
What Does This Have To Do With Truckers and Their Shoulders?
Trucker’s Shoulder affects long distance truck drivers because of both the way our roads and trucks are designed. Highways in this country were built to slant to the right to allow for water to run off the road. Trucks have an inherent safety design that will automatically drag the truck to the right in the event that a trucker falls asleep. Ultimately, a trucker is constantly turning the wheel to the left to make sure the truck stays on the road. Having to repeatedly correct and pull the truck to the left, especially when that truck is hauling many thousands of pounds, puts immeasurable strain on a trucker’s muscles.
What Are the Symptoms of Trucker’s Shoulder?
While not everyone will exhibit symptoms, the most typical symptoms of Trucker’s Shoulder are:
- Pain in the upper part of the arm
- Numbness in the hand
- Decrease in flexibility, motion and strength
These are only typical symptoms and the condition may present differently due to individual characteristics or because of the severity of the condition.
Trucker’s Shoulder Can Be Prevented and Can Be Treated
Fortunately, Trucker’s Shoulder can be prevented and treated. Recommended short term preventions and treatments include:
- Removing your left hand from the steering wheel every 20 minutes for about thirty seconds and putting your arm to work by stretching it, reaching down, or even rubbing or itching your stomach.
- Make stretching and other physical activities a part of your daily routine
- Applying ice to the affected area
- Using pain relievers and other anti-inflammatory drugs like cortisone to reduce swelling
- Physical therapy
- Surgery, in rare cases
Now you know what Trucker’s Shoulder is, you are exhibiting symptoms and as a result are unable to work. What do you do? You should report the injury to your employer as soon as is practicable.
How Can I get Arkansas Workers’ Comp Benefits with a Repetitive Motion Injury?
Arkansas’ workers’ compensation law covers most citizens of the state who have been accidentally injured while carrying out their job duties. If you are unable to work as a result of your job related injuries, you are entitled to receive money for living expenses and medical bills for as long as you are unable return to work up to certain caps and limits.
However, Arkansas makes it tricky to recover benefits for an RMD like Trucker’s Shoulder. The state requires that the work related injury be a specific incident or occurrence that can be traced back to a specific time and place. An example of this would be a heavy box falling on someone’s foot and breaking it, on Tuesday, June 7th at three o’clock in the afternoon, in a company’s warehouse. The problem, as we have seen, is that Trucker’s Shoulder is an injury that occurs over a long period of time (and miles).
It is still possible to prove repetitive motion injury and receive workers’ compensation benefits by proving that the working conditions were the “major cause” of your injury. Arkansas law defines “major cause” as being more than 50% of the cause of injury.
To further complicate matters, you are required to file your claim within two years of the date of your injury, or within one year of your last payment from your employer. For an injury like Trucker’s Shoulder, the statute of limitations begins to run at the time you first knew, or should have known, about your injury.
What Should You Do If You Have Trucker’s Shoulder Want to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You should follow these basic steps if you would like to receive your benefits:
- Report your injury to your employer with as much documentation as possible
- Your employer will then report the injury to their insurance carrier
- Go to the doctor that your employer or their insurance carrier has chosen
- Cooperate with your employer and their insurance carrier, but if you feel uncomfortable or threatened, remain calm and consult an attorney.
- Make sure you fill out all of the required forms, try to keep all scheduled appointments, keep a copy of any and all documents given to you related to your claim
- Return to work when the doctor tells you to, or if you are still unable to return to work, consult an attorney.
Because of the subjective nature of the law, the process can be complicated and favor of your employer. Particularly in cases where an injury may be tough to prove, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Arkansas Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today
If you are unable to work due to Trucker’s Shoulder or other workplace injuries, you are entitled to Arkansas Workers’ Compensation benefits. But as you now know, Trucker’s Shoulder is treated differently under the law than other types of workplace injuries with a definable injury event. Therefore it is often vitally important that you understand your injury and know your rights. If you are feeling overwhelmed, pressured to return to work when you are unable, or you don’t trust the opinion of your employer and their doctor, be sure to cooperate but also consult an attorney.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyer call Ken Kieklak at (479) 251-7767 today.
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